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Catholic group holds rally to pressure Archbishop Nienstedt to resign

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The Catholic Coalition for Church Reform is asking that Archbishop John Nienstedt resign from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis over the way the church handled accusations of priest sexual misconduct.

The CCCR held a rally Saturday calling for Nienstedt's resignation outside of the St. Paul Cathedral.

Minnesota Public Radio reports that about 100 people turned out for the rally. The group called for greater transparency in the Catholic Church. The group was made up of victims of clergy sex abuse and others, some held signs calling for Nienstedt to resign.

CCCR St. Paul co-chair Bob Beutel told KSTP, "We need healing, but healing cannot begin with the knife still in the wound. The archbishop himself is fomenting divisiveness, not showing leadership for a healthy Christian church."

The Pioneer Press reports that many of those who attended the protest still consider themselves Catholic. They said they respect the religion itself but are angry with the archdiocese's leadership for what they perceive as its impropriety.

Planning for the rally outside the Cathedral of St. Paul was prompted by a rising level of criticism of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for alleged coverups of sexual abuse by priests. Since May, at least 19 lawsuits have been filed against Catholic clergy in Minnesota.

The Catholic Church says they have followed protocols for protecting children since 2002. Nienstedt took over the leadership of the Archdiocese in 2008, succeeding former Archbishop Harry Flynn.

Since October, three high-ranking catholic officials have resigned amid the allegations.

The Archdiocese put out a statement on Saturday afternoon.

"It is my most sincere hope that the commitments and actions that my leadership team and I are taking, and will continue to take, will restore trust with our constituents," said Nienstedt. "We take these matters very seriously, and will continue to share more information in the coming weeks regarding our actions to create and maintain safe environments. Northing is more important."

Nienstedt has said he will not step down.

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